Sean Giambrone Interview: On Breakthrough Role as Adam in ABC's Hit Comedy "The Goldbergs"
Image attributed to Sean Giambrone
Seventeen-year-old Sean Giambrone is best known for his role as Adam Goldberg in the ABC comedy series, The Goldbergs. He also voices Jeff Randell from Clarence, the animated series on the Cartoon Network that also features Skyler Page and Tom Kenny.
The Goldbergs was created by Adam F. Goldberg and is loosely based on his childhood and family in the 1980s. In addition to Giambrone, the cast of The Goldbergs includes Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jeff Garlin, Troy Gentile, Hayley Orrantia and George Segal. The series fourth season will premiere on September 21, 2016.
“I always wonder if I had gone to the same school as Adam, would I have been friends with him? That’s kind of interesting to think about. But I do really like all the same stuff in that sense and making movies, too.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Sean, have you started filming the fourth season?
Sean Giambrone: We have not. It starts like the first day of August or something like that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What are you doing in the meantime?
Sean Giambrone: Right now, I’ve just been enjoying the nice weather in Chicago. For some reason, every day has just been beautiful. I’ve been playing a lot of soccer, playing some basketball and hanging out with friends.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Very cool. Let’s go back to the beginning. Why did you want to become an actor?
Sean Giambrone: I’ve always been interested in creating things. My brother and I used to make home videos similar to how my character on The Goldbergs does. I’ve always liked to make stuff. In the videos, he was always the director, and I was always the actor. When I was in elementary school, I did this variety show where I had to do some acting, and I just loved it. I liked being on stage and all that. It was sort of a random milestone where you say, “Hey, let’s try this acting thing!”
My mom heard an advertisement for this acting agency, and we thought we should give it a go. If it didn’t work out, we could say we tried, and we would just have to find something else. So we gave it a go, and they liked me. I kept auditioning We ended up not going with that agency, but I auditioned for commercials and just started to really like it. Then, The Goldbergs happened. Since doing The Goldbergs, I’ve really fallen in love with acting, and I’d love to just keep on doing it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You had a part in the film, I Heart Shakey, so that was right before The Goldbergs?
Sean Giambrone: I think I was called the Toledo Kid or something in that film, and all I did was have a water gun fight. For some reason, it was kind of like a random whirlwind. I know it happened, but it was just crazy because I did that for a day or two, then I just went on doing whatever.
It was cool because my brother actually got to be on that film, too. I was pretty much an extra on it, and they needed another extra, and my brother, Luke, was there, so they said, “Okay, let’s do this.” So me and my brother just got to play water guns (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So, tell me about getting The Goldbergs.
Sean Giambrone: Okay, I got a role on the cartoon, Clarence, and they wanted me to come out and do the voice recording in California. While I was there, my agent said, “We’ll send you on a couple of auditions, so you can get used to the casting agent.” I’m like, “Okay. We’re here. Might as well take some in.” One of them was The Goldbergs, so while I was out there doing Clarence, I auditioned for The Goldbergs. Adam Goldberg was in the room, and I got to audition in front of him.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did he offer pointers on how to play him?
Sean Giambrone: No. He just wanted to see what I was going to bring to the table and see me because I don’t look like him. He wanted to see if my characteristics could match up with him when he was a kid. I guess he saw something that reminded him of himself. He didn’t give me tips, though, until we started filming the actual show. I did get to see a couple of his videos that he made of his family, and one was this big montage of the character before the audition.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you have a favorite episode so far?
Sean Giambrone: I just really enjoyed filming “The Lost Boy” in the Veterans Stadium because it was just me and Jeff, and we got to film at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was cool because we were the only ones there, so we could walk around a little bit. There were some security guards, so you couldn’t really do that, but there were ways getting around it. I just really enjoyed the episode because I like how it ends where I run up to Murray and we hug and everything. It got to me when I was watching it. Usually when I watch myself, it doesn’t get to me, but that one did.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That scene got to me, also.
Sean Giambrone: Oh, it did! (laughs)
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes, it did. Of course, the comedy’s great, but then I like how the story sort of ties together at the end, usually in an emotional or dramatic way. One of Adam’s favorite expressions is, “Balls!” You look like you really enjoy saying that line!
Sean Giambrone: I really do! (laughs)
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was that a “word” that came from the real Adam Goldberg?
Sean Giambrone: Honestly, I have no idea because I’ve never heard Adam say it, either on video or in person, but it may have been one of his catchphrases as a kid. I remember first seeing it in the script, and I thought, “I have no idea how I’m supposed to say this because it’s not one of the words I say in person.” But there are so many takes, I just kept saying it and saying it, and I really like saying it now. There’s, “Oh, balls!” and “Balls!” and “Balls, balls, balls!” There are so many variations. Yeah. I really like saying it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And there is another word that is bleeped in every episode. I think that started out to be only a Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) “word,” but then it changed, and is said by a different cast member in every episode. Did the writers tell each of you in the very beginning that was going to happen in every episode?
Sean Giambrone: With that one, I think the network only allowed us to have one “bleep” during the first couple of seasons. They just love whenever Wendi swears on set. They think that she just swears so funny! So, they would write it in. But you’re right, they have been moving it around to other cast members. When Hayley, who plays Erica said, “I finally got the bleep,” she was so excited. It was a big day for her. It’s funny because they’re swearing on set (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you as much of a geek as Adam is?
Sean Giambrone: It’s kind of weird. I always thought I liked some of the stuff that Adam likes. But I like sports, too. I’m not the best at them, but I really enjoy them. I don’t think Adam liked sports very much as a kid. Other than that, I like Mario and Star Wars. I really like the video games and movies. I always wonder if I had gone to the same school as Adam, would I have been friends with him? That’s kind of interesting to think about. But I do really like all the same stuff in that sense and making movies, too.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Since you were not alive in the 1980s, did your parents give you some lessons on pop culture during that time?
Sean Giambrone: Honestly, right before we started filming the first season, even right before I got cast, it was really crazy because I had just seen four of the John Hughes movies. My brother was like, “I want to watch these movies.” I saw four of them, and shortly before that, we watched all of the old Star Wars, none of the prequels.
It’s like, we were really into 1980s movies even before we knew about the audition for The Goldbergs. So, I already knew some of the pop culture references just due to that, and it was just random that we picked those movies to watch. The writers also will explain stuff in the script, but if I ever need help, I usually just ask my parents to see what they think.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Wendi, Jeff and George are veteran actors. What have you learned from them?
Sean Giambrone: It’s cool because they teach me certain things about the director and editor. Like, there’s this one thing, when you’re saying this long line, it’s not good to bounce back between multiple actors, just usually pick one person to look at, then they get more of your face on camera. The directors help, too. George told me how people can see more of your face when you’re talking.
Jeff and Wendi teach me how to not push it. It’s better to just believe it. If I ever need help in delivering a line, they’ll say how they would do it. They teach me little tidbits. It’s really nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to learn how to act with. They’re wonderful people, and they’ve been doing it for a good amount of time. It’s a lot of fun.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What kind of relationship do you, Troy and Hayley have?
Sean Giambrone: It’s wild because we’re becoming more like real siblings, so we’re always happy to see each other. There’s a lot of goofing around, especially between Troy and Hayley when they have sisterly and brotherly fights, and she punches him in the arm when he gets her annoyed. You know, that thing when you touch someone’s side from behind, and they call it to taze somebody? Troy will do that to Hayley, then she flips out. It’s kind of crazy because it is just like how siblings act.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You mentioned earlier that you played soccer. Is that a school team?
Sean Giambrone: I missed the soccer season at school, and I’m not sure if I would’ve been good enough, so I just play the community house league. I just have a good little time and kick the ball around. I scored my first goal in six years a few weeks ago. It was a big moment.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What else do you enjoy in your spare time?
Sean Giambrone: My brother’s going to be going to college this year, so I’ve just been hanging out with him to get my brother fix. He’s been bringing random musical instruments downstairs, and we’ve been playing music. I don’t really remember how to play anything. I did guitar lessons one time, but I don’t remember how to play it.
We’ve been playing some video games. I’ve just been seeing friends. I’ve been reading a little bit, too, actually about screenwriting, just to learn about it and see what I think about it. It’s kind of interesting. It was wild because I read one chapter in, and George Segal’s name popped up (laughs). I thought that was pretty crazy.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you getting some proposals from the female fans?
Sean Giambrone: Oh, you’re trying to get the gossip (laughs). I got this one piece of fan mail, and I think it was from a young girl, younger than nine. It was the cutest thing because it looked like she was trying really hard to write the words. Then she kissed it at the bottom, and she circled her lip marks on it (laughs). That one made my day.
There have been some great people that love the show and are fans of Adam on social media. They’ve just been so great. There’s been a lot of long-time fans on there that are a bunch of really great people and really supportive people. That’s also pretty nice because you never know what people think and you go on social media and find out if people like the show. It makes you want to keep doing it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I imagine you want to keep doing The Goldbergs for a very long time.
Sean Giambrone: Oh, I do! If I could keep doing that … yeah!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What sort of projects would you like to do in the future?
Sean Giambrone: I would just like to keep on trying everything in this business because it’s just so much fun. It feels so alive. I would love to try anything, definitely would love to keep acting and do some films or guest roles to try new characters. I would love to do more cartoons and stuff like that. It’s just a really exciting thing, and I’d like to keep on going at it.
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